Stick and Poke vs Machine Tattoos – What's The Difference?

Tattoos have come a long way over the years. From the traditional tebori technique of hand-poking to the diverse capacity of modern machines, there’s a lot that can be achieved with a needle and some ink.

If you’re ready for your next tattoo and you’ve already decided on the design, you may be starting to wonder what method of tattooing you want to get to bring your vision to life.

Understanding the difference between tattooing methods – such as stick and poke and machine tattoos – can help you make a more educated choice on what's best for your body and your design. If you’re not quite sure what is going to give your tattoo the best look, we’ve laid down everything you need to know when deciding between a handpoke tattoo or a machine alternative.

Stick and Poke Tattoo

Stick and poke tattoos are a form of non-electric tattooing – meaning that no machine is used throughout the tattooing process. Instead, a tattooist will apply ink to the skin with a needle attached to a rod-like contraption. While the concept of stick and poke tattoos date back centuries, there’s been a recent resurgence of the age-old tattooing method as more and more people are showing a preference in the fine detail of handpoke tattoos.

Whether you're looking for something basic or something with a bit more complexity, the stick and poke tattoo method can cater to all kinds of designs.

There are many reasons why people choose handpoke tattoos, including their aesthetic value, creating a deeper connection with the tattoo, or simply preferring the method over a standard gun or machine.

Benefits of stick and poke tattoos

  • Faster healing time
  • Less discomfort
  • Great for small, fine detail designs

Stick and Poke Aftercare

Understanding how to care for your stick and poke tattoo is crucial in the overall healing process:

  • Correctly bandage your new handpoke tattoo
  • Cleanse the tattoo correctly by rinsing and washing with lukewarm water
  • Apply an appropriate aftercare ointment such as our Ink Nurse remedy cream
  • Avoid direct exposure to the sun for the first few weeks

Machine Tattoos

Machine tattooing is the most common technique as it is much quicker and can give some great shading and colour block results. This method is done with an electronic machine that drives a needle and ink into the skin at a rapid pace, making tiny dots very close together and creating smooth, clean lines.

Many people choose machine tattoos as their preferred method as the technique can create larger and more complex pieces. In addition, machine tattoos are ideal for large areas of black or colour, bold lines, or small designs with super fine detail.

While there tends to be more pain associated with machine tattoos, the process is often quicker and more manageable.

Machine Tattoo Benefits

  • High level of safety due to the use of professional equipment
  • A more efficient process, regardless of design complexity
  • A machine can achieve precise lines in one go
  • The ability to create unique designs and a high-quality finish

When it comes to stick and poke vs machine tattoos, the method you choose will depend entirely on your individual needs. For instance, if you're not overly sensitive to pain and looking for a quick, efficient experience, machine tattoos are a great choice. However, if you're searching for a more relaxing, less painful process that will give detail to an intricate design, perhaps consider opting for a stick and poke tattoo.